Over his nearly 35-year life span, Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Jon Herb has been an adventurer and risk-taker. Was there any doubt his path would lead to auto racing? Like most kids Herb, born in Chicago became interested in racing when...
Over his nearly 35-year life span, Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Jon Herb has been an adventurer and risk-taker. Was there any doubt his path would lead to auto racing?
Like most kids Herb, born in Chicago became interested in racing when he viewed his first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. After being a championship wrestler in high school and competing in NCAA Division I football at Southern Methodist University, Herb needed to check other items off his "to- do" list and one of those was motorsports.
Herb came in at the deep end after completing a brace of Skip Barber weekend schools and gaining his SCCA competition license. He bought a 1996 Van Diemen Formula Continental race car and ran 30 SCCA events his first year, 1997. He moved on to the US F2000 series in 1998 - the last year Jon Herb vied for any title until this season.
Jon Herb always knew it would be best for him to run a racing team in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series. In 13 starts between 2000-2002 Herb worked with Byrd-McCormack Motorsports, Immke/Tri Star Motorsports and with his own Racing Professionals outlet, Herb recorded a best finish of ninth at Texas Motor Speedway in the 2001 finale.
He decided to step back and run for a championship once again, despite the number of years between his last and most recent endeavors. Herb placed his Racing Professionals group in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series for three races in 2004 as a tune-up for an all-out push in the 2005 season.
The focus is appearing to pay off as Herb owns third place in the current standings, thanks to his victory at Phoenix International Raceway that followed a third place finish at the season-opening Homestead-Miami Speedway 100-mile event.
In the third race at St Petersburg, Herb struggled with an imbalance in his car. "This was my first street race in six years and I've really got limited background in road racing."
"We're pretty pleased with the way things are going now," Jon Herb stated. "We spent 2004 preparing for this year and I think we're pretty competitive. We were looking to ramp up our program and usually, I haven't been able to prepare before the season started. This year that has changed.'
Racing Professionals has a new focus for 2005 due to its ability to share space with Vision Racing in the northwest Indianapolis shops formerly used by Kelley Racing. "I hired Larry Curry to manage my team in January and we then began our preparation and plans.
"When Larry was approached by Tony George to handle the operations at Vision Racing," Herb explained, "he honored his prior commitment to me. At this point we've merged operations and are working from the same shops.
'It's easier for all of us than having two different shops; we save rent, transportation costs and it's a more viable way to go racing. This way we both learn from Larry and he learns from two drivers, not just one," Herb continued with reference to Vision Racing Pro Series driver Jay Drake.
Without a race between St Petersburg and the Futaba Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 22nd, Herb has plenty of time to reflect and prepare for a return to his favorite racing circuit.
"That victory at Phoenix was great preparation for May and is a good tune- up for us. I have confidence in Larry Curry and the cars he gives me. The Infiniti motors have been good and horsepower is on an even keel," Herb acknowledged. "I'm focused on winning and think our cars should be good for May.
"Winning races is what it's all about and that Phoenix victory was great for my personal self-confidence and for our Racing Professionals team." The pull of the Indy 500 still tugs at Herb and he'd like to return to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. "The 500 is where I want to be and I hope to do that again this year as well," doing the "double" as both a Menards Infiniti Pro Series entrant and in the 89th Indianapolis 500.
"I'm pretty happy where I'm at and there's not much else on my "to-do" list. I want to be here a long time to come," Jon Herb admitted. "Racing has my full commitment."